National Football League
Giants' commitment to Daniel Jones could cost them Saquon Barkley
National Football League

Giants' commitment to Daniel Jones could cost them Saquon Barkley

Updated Feb. 28, 2023 6:31 p.m. ET

INDIANAPOLIS — Daniel Jones is going to be the Giants' starting quarterback in 2023, one way or another, which is why GM Joe Schoen has been in "constant contact" with Jones' agents about signing him to a long-term deal. If they can't get a deal done, the Giants will place the franchise tag on him.

That's something Schoen really doesn't want to do.

"If you have to franchise Daniel, I don't think that's best for the organization and I don't think it's best for Daniel," Schoen said at the NFL scouting combine on Tuesday. "Especially as we try to build the team around him and (answer) questions about receiver and other positions on the other side of the ball where we may need depth. It does hurt you a little bit in terms of the team-building process.

"But we're prepared if that's the scenario we're faced with. We have a Plan B."


Plan B is not a particularly appealing one for Schoen, since it involves the Giants not being very aggressive in free agency and possibly even losing running back Saquon Barkley. The GM worked hard last offseason to drag the franchise out of salary cap hell, and once they officially cut receiver Kenny Golladay — which a source said they plan to do before the new league year starts on March 15 — the Giants will have about $53 million in cap space to spend in March.

But that will disappear quickly if Schoen has to tag Jones at a cost of $32.4 million. And while Schoen said that wouldn't preclude the Giants from bringing back Barkley anyway, it does take the franchise tag off the running back's table. That's a problem because the Giants and Barkley haven't been close in their contract talks so far, according to an NFL source, and the $10.1 million franchise tag for him seemed like a no-brainer.

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Schoen said the Giants have gotten "a little bit closer" with Barkley, "but there's still a gap." The gap is apparently even wider with Jones who, according to an NFL source, is seeking a deal worth more than $40 million per season. The Giants, according to a team source, prefer to keep his contract closer to $35 million per year.

"If it gets out of hand and it's out of our comfort zone we have the tag," Schoen said. "We can only tag one player. We'll use that. If someone's got to walk, then that's unfortunate but that's a part of the business.

"We're still building a team. That's important to keep in mind."

Building that team is very much at the front of Schoen's mind as he dives into his second offseason at the Giants' helm. Jones and Barkley may be the big-ticket items on his agenda, but he also has other free agents to deal with like center Jon Feliciano and safety Julian Love. He also knows the Giants need help at receiver, cornerback and linebacker, and he described the team's defensive line depth as "not great". 

That appears to be part of his pitch to Jones, too — appealing to the quarterback and his agents that, while the Giants want to pay him, it's in his best interests to leave some room for them to build up the team around him. He said giving Jones the franchise tag "is going to limit the resources you can use from outside the building. If you have players you like, it's going to limit the price point or the tier of player you're going to get."

It's too early to tell if that pitch will work, and if Jones will drop his price to get a deal done. Schoen said he met with Jones' new agents from Athletes First on Monday and expected to meet with them again on Tuesday. There's still plenty of time before the March 7 deadline to make a decision on the franchise tag.

Until then, Schoen said he remains "cautiously optimistic" that he'll figure out a way for both Jones and Barkley to return.

"You have to go through hard times before you come out the other end with better times with negotiations," he said. "We're trying to work through it. Obviously we'd like to have them both back. They know how we feel about both of them. … They're both part of why we had success last year. We'd like to have them both back, but sometimes it doesn't work out."

Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that, 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.

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